Tag: improved blood flow

5 Reasons to Rock Compression Socks

For many people, the words “compression socks” bring to mind images of your grandmother’s awful stockings. It may make you want to run for your fashion life, directly in the opposite direction. But here’s the thing: compression stockings are very useful medical tools when it comes to managing your vein health. So it’s important to wear them when your doctors suggests it. So, in case you need a little extra push toward the compression stocking aisle, here are three great reasons to wear these most useful articles of clothing!

5 Compelling Reasons to Wear Compression Socks

Especially in the hot summer months, we know compression socks may seem unpleasant. But they have important jobs to do, so just give them a chance. Need more convincing? Here are the reasons why wearing compression socks is so important!

Choosing The Right Compression Therapy
Compression stockings don’t have to look like this anymore…there are many patterns and colors to choose from!
  1. They could save your life.

    Compression stockings put pressure on your leg, and that pressure pushes blood from the bottom of your legs into the deep venous system, helping blood return to your heart. Because of this, compression stockings are great tools for managing many types of vein disease. They can reduce or even eliminate edemas (swelling of the leg, ankles or feet) and can help reduce the risk of DVT (deep vein thrombosis, a potentially deadly condition that often develops without any warning signs.)

  2. They can keep varicose veins from getting worse.

    Varicose veins emerge when valves in your veins fail, allowing blood to pool. This pooling blood can cause your veins to bulge or darken in color, which is the point at which they become visible through your skin. Because compression stockings promote the return of blood from your legs to your heart, they can help prevent blood pooling and prevent new varicose veins from developing, or existing ones from getting worse.

  3. Compression Socks speed up blood flow.

    Even if you don’t have vein disease, boosting blood flow is beneficial. These socks do their job by mimicking the natural movement your body makes when pump blood from your legs into the upper parts of your body. With this help, your body can work more efficiently. Which may translate to more energy in your body…and that’s always a good thing!

  4. Get help for all day standing and sitting.

    What’s one common complaint among people who spend all day on their feet? Swollen legs (edema.) And compression socks can help with this area as well. How? If you need to stand or sit for hours at a time, fluid can build up in your legs. And that’s when you may notice swelling.  At first, this may not seem like a big problem. But if you don’t address fluid buildup, the extra pressure could burst your veins, leaving you with open sores (ulcers) or infection. If that sounds scary, well…good. It is! Thankfully, however, wearing compression socks will minimize your risk by pushing fluid out of your legs while they work on your blood flow.

  5. These days, compression stockings are so cute!

    Back in your grandmother’s day, compression stockings were, admittedly, unattractive. In 2019, however, compression stockings come in an array of colors, sizes and prints. Basically, there’s a pair to fit every person’s individual style AND medical needs. So, basically, using the “ugly” excuse to avid compression stockings is no longer an option.

Vein disease can make your legs less attractive, but compression stockings can manage your symptoms AND help you look cute while doing so! Looking for a recommendation on a great pair of stockings? We’ve got so many options in our Houston area offices. Stop on by and check them out!

 

Sources: Web MD, Rite Aid, Explosion

The Power of Everyday Stretching and PAD

There’s a brand new way to address PAD: stretching! Remember when you thought cardiovascular exercise like walking was the only way to help your Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD)? Well, a new study from the University of Milan is turning that idea on its head. Researchers revealed that 12 weeks of passive stretching can also improve your blood flow and support your vascular health. This could drastically alter exercise recommendations for PAD patients.

PAD is a painful condition triggered by narrow, hardened arteries. When you feel PAD pain in your legs, it’s because reduced blood flow to your legs means they don’t receive enough oxygen to support your movement.

Typically, vein specialists recommend a walking program to help boost blood flow to your legs. Even though the walking will hurt at first, over time, most PAD patients see symptom improvement. Especially when they walk in combination with other treatment protocols.

For some, however, that initial pain is overwhelming. Which is why this new Italian research is very ing exciting.

Dynamic, Active and Passive Stretching  Passive stretching can improve blood flow and PAD

Before turning to the research findings, a word on stretching. There are three types: dynamic stretching, which involves loosening your body while you’re on the move. Think gentle walking lunges, arm twists and leg swings. Dynamic stretching is a great warm up for active workouts like jogs and runs.

Next comes active stretching, where you get into a stretched position, such as lifting your leg in the air in front of you. And then you hold that position without the assistance of your hands, or anything else. Associated with workouts like yoga flows, these stretches increase your flexibility and build muscle. But they’re not the type of stretch we’re talking about today.

The stretching format included in our study is passive stretching. It involves assuming a stretch position and holding your body in that pose with the help of your hands or another external force, like a yoga strap. Now, apparently, we know that passive stretching can improve your blood flow. Let’s take a closer look.

Blood Flow, Stretching and PAD Study

To start, researchers gathered 39 healthy men and women, splitting then them into two groups. One group engaged in leg stretches five times a week for 12 weeks. The second group didn’t stretch.

At the end of the study period, the stretching group showed evidence improved vascular health. heart attack and stroke. The study authors wrote: “Blood pressure was decreased, central and peripheral arterial stiffness was reduced, and vascular function was increased after 12 weeks of passive stretching training.”

In other words, regular passive stretching minimized factors that contribute to PAD. All of which suggests that, in addition to walking and other forms of cardio, you may want to discuss a stretching program with your vein specialist.

Now, it’s important to note that stretching doesn’t produce the same level of blood flow improvement as cardiovascular exercise. But for those who can’t walk, or who are able to combine stretching and walking programs, the findings show a lot of promise.

Preventing and Treating PAD

As we noted earlier, stiff, hard arteries contribute to PAD symptoms. So, keeping your arteries healthy can help prevent this condition. But how can you protect your arterial health?

You need to maintain their flexibility, since they must expand and contract in order to allow for proper blood flow. And, to keep your arteries flexible, you should maintain a healthy weight, engage in cardio exercise and address high blood pressure if that’s a personal concern.

If, however, you’ve already developed plaque and atherosclerosis, it’s time to explore PAD treatment. At our Houston area arterial care clinics, we treat PAD with minimally invasive procedures such as Angioplasty, Stenting, and Atherectomy. In most cases, we’re able to resolve your symptoms without large incisions or open surgery, so we’re typically able to send you home the same day as your procedure.

But what does that procedure look like? One of our expert interventional radiologists inserts a small IV and wire through your groin. Once we access your blood vessel, we use imaging to guide the wire into position past your affected artery. From here, we’ll determine the best treatment option based on your disease progression. We’ll either use a balloon to widen your vessel (angioplasty) or carefully place a stent that will hold the vessel open permanently to increase blood flow.

If you have PAD symptoms such as pain when you walk, numb or cold feet, reduced leg hair or toenail growth, or wounds that just won’t heal, it’s time to come in for a visit. We’ll get you scheduled for an Ankle-Brachial Index test that will determine the extent of your PAD progression.

 

Sources: MIT.edu, The Journal of Physiology

Will High Heels Give me Spider Veins?

So many women have closets packed with high heels. Let’s face it, stilettos can be great–they make your legs look longer, they give you extra inches, and they add a stylish finish to almost any outfit.

That’s the good news about high heels…but here’s the not-so-good news. While wearing high heels won’t directly cause you to develop varicose veins, they can contribute to this problem by affecting blood flow in your veins. And, not surprisingly, the higher the heels, the bigger the negative impact on your vein health.

What Are Varicose Veins?

To understand the connection between high heels and varicose veins, we must first understand this problem and why it happens.

Over 25 million Americans have varicose veins. Some people will recognize the problem right away, thanks to visible symptoms like bulging veins or brightly colored veins that are visible on the skin’s surface.

Some symptoms of varicose veins are less obvious:  heaviness, aching, swelling, tiredness, burning, stinging, and leg cramps are all signs that you may have a problem. Other symptoms, like swollen legs, changes in your skin and even ulcers are also symptoms of spider veins, but they can often be mistaken for other conditions.

Varicose veins are a faulty part of the venous system, which is just a group of pipes, pumps, and valves in your body. Veins are ‘pipes’ for blood. Valves are like stop signs that keep the blood flowing in the right direction–either up to your heart or away from your heart to your other body parts.

When any part of your venous system stops doing its job properly, blood can begin to pool in your veins, causing them to stretch and bulge. That’s when you may notice symptoms of varicose veins.

High Heels and Blood Flow

When you walk, blood starts pumping in your foot and calf. Blood starts moving up the veins in your legs. Valves help that blood fight gravity and keep flowing up towards your heart.

Of course, that’s the case when your’re walking normally.  When you stride wearing basic, supportive shoes, your foot and calf work together. Veins in your foot fill it with blood as it lifts off the floor. When your heel and arch land back on the floor, that blood starts flowing into the relaxed veins in your calf. Once there, your calf muscles get to work, pushing blood into the deep veins in your legs.

High heels are a game changer in this system because of the way they affect your stride. When you’re rocking those three-inch stilettos, your heel never touches the ground. All your weight stays in your toes and the balls of your feet. Plus, because of the angle of your body, your calf muscles never get the chance to relax when you’re in heels.

The result of these stride changes is fairly significant. Your foot gets less filled with blood; your calf muscles are less effective when they try to pump blood up to your heart. The decreased pump strength can leave some blood behind in your legs, allowing it to build up and pool in your veins. When this happens, your vein health may suffer.

Preventing Spider Veins 

While no one expects you to give up high heels completely, there are steps you can take to limit the damage to your veins:

  1. Save those stilettos for short events and special occasions.
  2. Stick to heels that are no more than three inches (and shorter is even better).
  3. If you’re going to be in heels for a while, consider throwing on a pair of compression stockings.
  4. Strengthen your calf muscles once the heels come off by sneaking in a few sets of heel raises.
  5. Check in with your Houston vein specialist if you start noticing any of the spider vein symptoms we discussed above.

 

While high heels don’t directly cause spider veins, they may create an environment that compromises your overall vein health. If you already have spider veins, or have a family history of vein disease, keeping a close watch on your shoe closet is a very good idea.

 

Sources: New York Times

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